Drawing on the past to pave the way for the future

Posted on by CDC's Safe Healthcare Blog

The 6th Decennial International Conference on Healthcare Associated Infections is being reimagined into a series of virtual sessions called Decennial Day.

Decennial Day will take place on Monday, April 12, 2021 and registration is free. For more information on the agenda and the speakers for Decennial Day, visit: Decennial Day at SHEA Spring 2021

Denise Cardo, MD,
Former Director of CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion

A look back at past Decennial themes

Surveillance is essential, but how? Epidemic and endemic infection, emerging pathogens/AR
Host susceptibility (endogenous risks), medical devices (exogenous risks), risk stratification, emerging pathogens/AR
New vulnerable patients, non-acute care, emerging drug resistance, occupational health
Prevention impact /cost-effectiveness, quality and prevention across the entire delivery system, networks, knowledge systems, and decision support
Moving towards elimination of HAIs, infections outside hospitals, AR, engaging new science and partners to improve healthcare


In 1970, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) hosted the International Conference on Nosocomial Infections. Later, CDC and partners decided that an international meeting every decade—the Decennial—would be a great way to help the field learn from the past and outline the future for greater impact to prevent infections and save lives. This historic conference has become the premier event to reflect on successes in infection prevention and inform priority areas that impact the future of healthcare quality, combating antibiotic resistance (AR), and patient safety.

The Sixth Decennial will take place in March 2020—the overall conference theme is addressing AR in healthcare as a global strategy. I have attended the Decennial since 1990, and each one has provided me with more insight and information on what is needed and can be achieved to improve patient safety through the elimination of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs).

The Sixth Decennial has three narrative themes integrated throughout the program. These themes outline proven strategies for continued progress in eliminating HAIs and combating AR in healthcare.

The themes are:

  • Data for Action: Improvements in use of surveillance, epidemiologic, clinical, and laboratory data critical for closing knowledge gaps and implementing effective strategies for safe care.
  • Innovation: Needed advances in healthcare technology, practices, policies, and programs to meet the goal of eliminating HAIs and combating AR.
  • Addressing AMR Without Borders: Coordinated responses at the local, regional, and international levels to contain spread of HAIs and AR within and between healthcare facilities and the environment.

Over the decades we have seen much progress in protecting patients through our efforts to attain perfect healthcare with no infections. Register now and be a part of this momentous effort—together we can do even more. https://decennial2020.org/registration/

Dr. Denise Cardo served as director of CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion.

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2 comments on “Drawing on the past to pave the way for the future”

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    I have been fortunate to attend the past two Decennials and looking forward to attending this year.
    The quality of information and the net working available at this conference is certainly something not to be missed.

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Page last reviewed: November 28, 2023
Page last updated: November 28, 2023